Factors Affecting Poor Reading Comprehension of College Students

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Connections for Comprehension?
Prior-Knowledge Activation
Prior-Knowledge Activation
T
ext
A
ccording to the study
From Kindergarten Through
Third Grade: Children’s
Beginning School
Experiences
(2004) only
twenty-nine percent of all
third-grade children
surveyed in the longitudinal
study were able to make
interpretations beyond
what was stated in text.
Improved Comprehension
Connections
Genre/Text Features
V
ocabulary
Themes/Topics
T
ext-to-Text
T
ext-to-Self
T
ext-to-World
Reader
5
R
esearch Paper:
Connections for Comprehension
With the goal of improving students’ reading comprehension, Connections for Comprehension
activates the following research-
based connections as comprehension-building tools: genres
and text features, as well as vocabulary, content, text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections.
What Is Prior Knowledge and How Does It Work?
Prior-knowledge activation is the catalyst that makes these
comprehension connections occur. It is a strategy that
proficient readers use to help their interactions with texts become memorable and relevant. “Prior knowledge affects
comprehension by creating expectations about the
content, thus directing attention to relevant parts,
enabling the reader to infer and elaborate what is
being read, to fill in missing or incomplete
information in the text, and to use existing mental
structures to construct memory representations
that facilitate later use, recall, and reconstructions
of text” (NICHD, 2000, p. 4-84).
R
esearchers Pearson, Roehler, Dole, and Duffy
(1992) summarize what research has found about
prior-knowledge activation (p. 155).
1. Students with greater prior knowledge
comprehend and remember more.
2. Merely having prior knowledge is not enough
to improve comprehension; the knowledge
must be activated, implying a strong
metacognitive dimension to its use.
3. Young readers and poor readers often do
not activate their prior knowledge.
4. Good readers use their prior knowledge to
determine the importance of information in
the text.
5. Good readers use their prior knowledge to
draw inferences from and elaborate on text.
Connections
Genre/Text Features
V
ocabulary
Themes/Topics
T
ext-to-Text
T
ext-to-Self
T
ext-to-World
Prior-Knowledge Activation
Prior-Knowledge Activation
T
ext
Improved Comprehension
Prior-knowledge
activation is a driving
fo
r
ce in making
comprehension
connections.
Reader
6
R
esearch Paper:
Connections for Comprehension
Students activate their prior
knowledge before reading
each selection. Students then
r
eturn to compare and
contrast their original
conceptions.
A
dditionally, utilizing background knowledge improves
comprehension not only in terms of the students’ reading
growth, but also in terms of their achievement scores.
“Background knowledge and reading comprehension scores
are positively correlated—the more background knowledge a
r
eader has about a subject, the more the reader understands
when reading text about that subject” (Pearson, Hansen, &
Gordon (1979).
Connections for Comprehension
activates and engages students’
background knowledge in order for them to develop text-to-
self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections. Students also use background knowledge to learn new vocabulary and to
study genres and text features. Students use a variety of
graphic aids to make their thinking process visible. At the
conclusion of each lesson, students return to their original conceptions about the topic or theme to compare and
contrast their new knowledge.
What Types of Connections Are Taught?
Prior-knowledge activation and the
connections for comprehension are integrated
throughout each of the three lessons in each
unit. Books A and B each have three units.
Books C–H each have six
units. “Students
come to the classroom with preconceptions
about how the world works. If their initial
understanding is not engaged,...
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